Several families are taking to social networks to stay in touch
Staying in touch with family can be a challenge. Work, military service or service missions can place extended family in remote areas of the world where familial contact is next to impossible.
In order to overcome borders and miles of distance, many families have turned to social networks to maintain contact and notify each other of professional successes, additions to the family, anniversaries, engagements, weddings and many of the milestones that occur during one’s lifetime and discovering one’s ancestry.
“Our intent when we started the Facebook page for our surname was to make sure that we could all stay in touch with each other,” said Carolina Hirsch, whose 91-year-old legacy now includes six children, 31 grandchildren, 42 great grandchildren and six great, great grandchildren. “My daughter joked with me at a reunion that she didn’t know half of the people there because we were all so spread out across the country. So she and I got a Facebook page started where we could stay in touch, discuss our accomplishments and keep adding to the family tree.”
Hirsch, who remains active and lucid at 91, credits, in part, her focus on keeping her family close as part of her own longevity.
“After my husband passed away three years ago, I began to focus more and more on my kids and my grandkids,” she said. “I can’t drive anywhere to visit them, but I do love it when they come and visit me. But a lot of them can’t do that, so it’s wonderful to see pictures of them on our Facebook page.”
Many families have started using Facebook for similar purposes. In Southern Colorado and New Mexico several families have begun to keep track of each other through Facebook, using the social network as a means of reuniting when physical reunions aren’t possible.
“I hadn’t seen my primo for over 20 years,” recalled David Cuevas, 39, of his cousin Arturo Rojas, who joined the Armed Forces in 1999 and did not stay in contact with his extended family after his first tour of duty. “Then my mom and her sisters got this page set up for us about two years ago.”
Cuevas said that prior to the family Facebook page he was rarely on Facebook or any social network calling them forums for “bragging and complaining.”
That changed, however, with the family site.
“It brought back a lot of my childhood,” he said. “The good parts of my childhood when we would head to the family ranch in Durango, go skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer.”
It also brought back a familiar face he hadn’t seen in nearly two decades.
“I knew it was him the moment I saw him,” Cuevas said of his cousin. “He was a little older and had more meat on his bones, but he was the same guy, same haircut.”
It was Arturo announcing the birth of his daughter from his home in Carson City, Nev., along with his wife, Jennifer, with whom he had been married for 12 years.
“I was like, ‘holy cow,’” Cuevas laughed. “Here I hadn’t seen him in almost 20 years, he has three kids, a beautiful wife and is living in Carson City. That part was really funny to me, because I remember how we had talked about wanting to live near Lake Tahoe when we were older.”
For Hirsch the experiences have been similar since she decided to use social networks to keep her extended family in touch.
“It’s easy to drift away from the family when you’re not in contact,” she said. “But it’s so much fun to talk about each other’s accomplishments and enjoy each other’s company, even if it is through a computer screen or a phone.”